Saturday, August 16, 2014

Jenny's Library Books Mid-August Edition

The Blazing World by Siri Hustvedt
I Am Having So Much Fun Here Without You by Courtney Maum
The Lady in Gold by Anne-Marie O'Connor
Orfeo by Richard Powers
History of the Rain by Niall Williams

This month is dominated by the Man Booker Prize longlist.  Half the books won't be available in the USA until after the shortlist is announced, but I wanted to read some of the longlist.  That explains the Hustvedt, the Powers, and the Williams.

The Lady in Gold is coming up for my International Club of the Upstate Bookclub in September, and the Maum was just for me.  I zipped through the Maum last weekend, and hope to at least start some of the Booker longlisted books this weekend.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Reading Envy Episode 009: Pirates and Noonday Demons

We are back! Starting with Episode 009, we will be posting a podcast every two weeks, on every other Tuesday.  Some will follow the book-based format while some might veer off onto other bookish topics.  We welcome your feedback as we continue to find our groove.

On Episode 009, Jenny brought three books to discuss: 

The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression by Andrew Solomon
Varieties of Disturbance: Stories by Lydia Davis
Crux by Ramez Naam

Scott brought two books to talk about:

On Stranger Tides by Tim Powers
Hamlet's BlackBerry by William Powers

We also mentioned:
Declare by Tim Powers
Anubis Gates by Tim Powers
The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains by Nicholas Carr
The Atlantic: Is Google Making Us Stupid? by Nicholas Carr

Download or listen via this link: Reading Envy 009: Pirates and Noonday Demons

Subscribe to the podcast via this link: Feedburner

Or subscribe via iTunes by clicking: Subscribe

Friday, August 8, 2014

Speed Dating Round Four

I haven't done a round of speed-dating my books since November 2013.  I decided it was time.  Instead of picking books from my online to-read list (which I would have to gather), I limited myself to books on my shelves.

Speed-dating books is where you read the first 50 pages to decide if you still think you want to read them.  Some books might need more patience than that, but most of the time gut reactions hold true.

The books of round four:

Hammered (Jenny Casey #1) by Elizabeth Bear
One of those authors I hear about and haven't read, so I'll give it a try.  I'm not sure I'll be able to read it because it's a mass market paperback. My brain hates those.
I really enjoyed Huston's book "Sleepless" but this book is along a different style, more true to his other series.  Not sure it will be my thing!
Absurdistan by Gary Shteyngart
Loved Super Sad True Love Story but this is an earlier book. Will it be as charming?
Wild Thorns by Sahar Khalifeh
One of the books I had collected for my Around the World reading, the only book I have set in Palestine.  I felt like reading it might be timely.

Speedboat by Renata Adler
I have no idea what this book is about, but one of the friends whose reading opinions I rely on ordered me to buy it.  So I did.  This is a reprint through NYRB.
This was in my original speed-dating list, but I traded it out for The Great Railway Bazaar. This book is the same trip 30 years later, so it made sense to start with the other. But since this includes Turkey and I'm still reading and studying Turkish, why not!?
The Fish Can Sing by Halldór Laxness
I missed when my World Literature group in GoodReads read this, and want to at least try it.  I've already read a few books by Laxness, but he seems to be the Icelandic author of the last fifty years.
The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro
This book actually is on the first page of my to-read list.  It's been a while, so I should try it.  I've read Never Let Me Go by the same author.
Light by M. John Harrison
This author is on my 2014 Reading Goals, but so far I've only read a short story by him, "Cave & Julia."  
Virtual Light by William Gibson
I own two of the three books in this trilogy, and I need to find out if I want to read them or not.  I've read a lot of Gibson, and love the Sprawl trilogy more than almost anything in science fiction, but I haven't loved his newer stuff as much.  Where will this fall?
Deception by Philip Roth
Another one from my 2014 Reading Goals.  Philip Roth has a large body of work, and I have three of the books at home.  I should at least figure out if I want to keep reading him!

Any thoughts on these books to share with me?  I'll report back when I've tried them all out! 

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Jenny's Books Added in July 2014

Because of my three weeks in Oregon, I did not check out any books from the library in the month of July.  Well, to be honest, I visited my old hometown library with my Mom and she checked out The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry for me, but *I* didn't check it out. So there was not a mid-month library books post this time around.

Before I left for Oregon, I had a birthday.  I often get books for my birthday, but most often they are cooking and baking related.  In case you didn't know of my alternate baking persona, she can be found over on   That interest will explain most of the books on this pile.  The songwriting one is by the man I took a MOOC from through Berklee College of Music, and the picture book about public libraries is gorgeous.  I'll probably bring it to my office at an academic library.

While I was in Oregon, I did make it to a few bookstores.  Okay, I went to Powell's four times - twice downtown, once at the mall formerly known as the Beaverton Mall, and once in the airport.  I also went with my Mom to two used bookstores that she has credits at.  Love love love Powell's, but had no room in my luggage for a huge buying spree. I bought only one book there - a book of poetry in Turkish.  They had three shelves of books in Turkish!

The Margaret Atwood and Wiley Cash books come from the bookstores my Mom had credit at - the Atwood I'd never heard of and the Cash was in great condition so I couldn't help it.  The Hillary Rodham  Clinton audiobook came in the mail while I was away, a review copy from the publisher.  I'm two discs in. Hillary is going to spend quite a few work commutes with me (since they are only three miles, ha!)

Before I left for my trip, I downloaded two more audiobooks.  I also got a few review copies digitally before it turned to August, so I'll list those here.

Authority (Southern Reach Trilogy #2) by Jeff Vandermeer, read by Bronson Pinchot
I've already listened to this one! I listened to it while I was reading the paperback, because Bronson Pinchot is a great reader and then I could more easily take the book with me. 

Prototype by M.D. Waters
I had read Archetype, the first in this series, and enjoyed it. About clones.

A Spy Among Friends by Ben Macintyre, read by John Lee
I'm always on the hunt for spy books and John Lee is usually a great narrator.

The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson
Not too thrilled about this one, but it's for one of my bookclubs, the one that meets in person, and I like it when people read books I pick that they aren't thrilled with.  I tried listening to it on the plane and had a hard time focusing, and picked it up again one night when coyotes woke me up. 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Reading Envy Podcast Episode 008: Gone Rogue

In this episode, Jenny goes rogue and interviews some of her colleagues at Furman University about what they have been reading lately. You will witness how lucky she is to have these people around to talk about books on a daily basis!

Steve Richardson, who has been a librarian at Furman for twenty-eight years, talked about one man's journey from Holland to Constantinople. 

A Time of Gifts by Patrick Leigh Fermor

Steve also mentioned:
Between the Woods and the Water by Patrick Leigh Fermor
The Broken Road by Patrick Leigh Fermor
Arts & Letters Daily
Furman University Libraries

Jenny also mentioned:
"That book Fermor wrote about the Caribbean"-
The Traveller's Tree: A Journey Through the Caribbean Islands
George Orwell Diaries (also discussed at length on Episode 007)

Guest number two is Libby Young.  Libby is also a librarian at Furman, who likes to read fiction of all varieties.  We share lists from our respective book clubs to keep up with what everyone in town is reading.

The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker

Libby also mentioned:
Malaprop's Bookstore/Cafe in Asheville, NC
Room by Emma Donoghue
A Fine Balance by Rohinton Minstry
City of Thieves by David Banioff
The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson

Jenny also mentioned:
97 Orchard: An Edible History of Five Immigrant Families in One New York Tenement by Jane Ziegelman

The last guest for this episode is Mike Winiski. Mike works in the Center for Teaching and Learning at the same university, and also works in the same library building as Jenny, Steve, and Libby.  His love for non-fiction and recent forays into science fiction have influenced his reading lately.

Red Rising (Red Rising Trilogy #1) by Pierce Brown

Mike also mentioned:
The Martian by Andy Weir
Desert Solitaire by Edward Abbey
The Monkey Wrench Gang by Edward Abbey
Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage by Alfred Lansing
Mawson's Will by Leonard Bickel
Philip K. Dick
The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury
The Devil & Sherlock Holmes by David Grann
Wired for Story by Lisa Cron
Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy

Jenny also mentioned:
The Girl in the Road by Monica Byrne
The Storytelling Animal: How Stories Make Us Human by Jonathan Gottschall

Download or listen via this link: Episode 008

Subscribe to the podcast via this link: Feedburner

Or subscribe via iTunes by clicking: Subscribe

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Jenny's Books Added June 2014 - two stacks!

This has been a busy book month for some reason.  I would blame used book stores but this first stack is completely made up of books I got through trades at  The used book store stack is substantial enough to be listed separately.  Gulp.

Physical Audiobooks:
The Ballad of the Sad Cafe by Carson McCullers, read by David LeDoux, Joe Barrett, Thérése Plummer, Kevin Pariseau, Suzanne Toren, Edoardo Ballerini, and Barbara Rosenblat (my review)
Breakfast at Tiffany's by Truman Capote, read by Michael C. Hall (my review)

Both of these are review copies that I asked for from Brilliance Audio, one because of the reader (Michael C. Hall, the actor from Six Feet Under and Dexter), the other because I'm trying to read more southern lit.

Physical books:
The Fall of the Towers by Samuel R. Delany
Granta: The First Twenty-One Years
Granta 81: Best of Young British Novelists 2003
Granta 78: Bad Company

Granta 76: Music 
Granta 61: The Sea 

The Tortilla Curtain by T.C. Boyle
The Bone People by Keri Hume
Persuasion by Jane Austen
The Book of Madness and Cures by Regina O'Melveny
A Gesture Life by Chang-Rae Lee

I stumbled across Granta Magazine which is a literary publication full of short stories, the style of a paperback rather than a slim glossy publication like Harpers, Oxford American, etc.  I stumbled across one in, "The Sea," when I was looking for Orhan Pamuk.  I've been on a short story kick and I hope it lasts through trying some of these volumes.  The others were chosen because of authors or themes, sometimes both.  They are strong candidates for airplane reading on Saturday.

The Boyle, Hume, and Austen are all specific editions that I wanted because of the cover... she says sheepishly.  The links go to the correct edition.  Penguin Ink and Penguin Classics.

I'm reading the O'Melveny for my in-person book club in 2014-15, the Chang-Rae Lee for the Open Book Series, and the Delany for my 2014 reading goals.

Okay, onward to physical book pile #2, known as "I only meant to browse at the used bookstore but then I had credits burning a hole in my pocket and I was in the mood for mighty tomes!"

It's funny because every book in this stack was chosen because of previously positive experience with the author. I just finished the Witches of Eastwick today, so the widows are certainly in my future.  I loved Mating by Norman Rush, several by Pynchon, The End of the Affair by Greene, and I wanted to own the parable books by Butler.  The Sword & Laser group is reading the first book of Lilith's Brood for July, and I found the trilogy bound as one $3 volume.  What can you do when the universe clearly wants you to go home with a book? I only paid $1 for this pile because I had trade-in credits for the rest.  Book swapping is the way to go, whether in person or in the mail!

My last book purchase for June was an eBook of War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy, translated by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky.  I already talked about it a bit earlier this month, and hope to write more about it soon.  It will take several months to get through, in between other books.

Tell me about the books you've brought home recently!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

A Very Special Book Stack

What would you do if it had been ten years since you had been "home?"
And you are headed there for three weeks?
And "home" does not include internet access?

Well, my strategy is to ship books to myself ahead of time.  Growing up in my family I could read as many books as I could carry and play the piano as many hours as I wanted, but television had to be educational and no more than thirty minutes a day.  I understandably didn't watch a lot of tv.

It is fitting that I need to first plan the books I'll bring. I haven't even considered any other part of the trip.  But books, I'll have.

I wandered my room of unread books, I asked friends for advice, and put the box together tonight.  I discovered that I could easily pick a majority of ironic or not-so-ironic titles, and so I have.  At the very least, seeing them will make me smile.

I don't know, do I need to explain them?  The Journey Home? Homeland? My Family and Other Animals? Small World? In the Woods?  Heh.  

Some are for other reasons but the Crux of the pile is home and family. Oh yeah and my Dad is from Yamhill.

I have a bunch of books on my iPad too.  I think I might be okay for three weeks.  I'll be an hour from Powell's if things get desperate.